This is a small heart shaped brooch to celebrate Valentines.  Was it given as a love token?  I don’t know.  But I like to imagine a young man presenting the brooch to his sweetheart on St Valentine’s day. It is not valuable, the stones are just glass and are mounted in brass.  But care has been taken to create a pleasing design.

This type of small brooch is often referred to as a ‘lace brooch’ because they were used to fasten lace collars worn over dresses.   At the beginning of the 19th century there was no ‘ready to wear’ clothing, all clothes were made by hand.   This made them expensive and time consuming to produce.  Though the aristocratic and wealthy women may have had a selection of dresses for all social occasions, for a large number of women they probably only owned one or two dresses.  So, imagine you have your one winter wool plain brown dress, practical but perhaps a little dull.  Adding a collar or a shawl allows you to change the look of the dress, maybe an elaborate  lace collar would be worn on Sunday but for the working week perhaps a simple plain white collar.  These would be held in place by a small brooch like this green heart.

In 1831, George Opdyke (later Mayor of New York) began the small-scale manufacture of ready-made clothing, but it was not until the power-driven sewing machine was invented that factory production of clothes on a large scale occurred. During the 19th century there was a lively second-hand, third-hand and even fourth-hand trade in used clothes for both women and men.

Though mechanical machines to assist sewing can be traced back to 1755 when Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal a German born engineer working in England was first granted a patent for his mechanical device to assist sewing.  Over the next hundred years there were further developments in mechanical machines to assist sewing.  This accolade is given to Isaac Merritt Singer in 1851, but in fact the English inventor John Fisher had designed a similar machine a few years earlier.  Singer though cornered the market with his cheaper machines.  It took the world by storm and made Isaac Singer an extremely rich man.  Singer machines are still being made and come with built in computers.

Nowadays the green heart emoji 💚 is used to represent love, support, close bonds, and admiration for things that have some affinity to the colour green, for example nature.

Happy Valentines Day